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Sri Lanka declares food emergency as forex crisis worsens

(AFP)-Sri Lanka on Tuesday declared a state of emergency over food shortages as private banks ran out of foreign exchange to finance imports.

With the country suffering a hard-hitting economic crisis, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he ordered emergency regulations to counter the hoarding of sugar, rice and other essential foods.

Rajapaksa has named a top army officer as “Commissioner General of Essential Services to coordinate the supply of paddy, rice, sugar and other consumer goods”.

Shortages of goods including kerosene oil, milk and cooking gas have led to long queues forming outside stores in Sri Lanka (AFP/ISHARA S. KODIKARA)

The move followed sharp price rises for sugar, rice, onions and potatoes, while long queues have formed outside stores because of shortages of milk powder, kerosene oil and cooking gas.

The government has increased penalties for food hoarding, but the shortages come as the country of 21 million battles a fierce coronavirus wave that is claiming more than 200 lives a day.

The economy shrank by a record 3.6 percent in 2020 because of the pandemic and in March last year the government banned imports of vehicles and other items, including edible oils and turmeric, an essential spice in local cooking, in a bid to save foreign exchange.

Importers still say they have been unable to source dollars to pay for the food and medicines they are allowed to buy.

Two weeks ago, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka increased interest rates in a bid to shore up the local currency.

Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves fell to $2.8 billion at the end of July, from $7.5 billion in November 2019 when the government took office and the rupee has lost more than 20 percent of its value against the US dollar in that time, according to bank data.

Energy minister Udaya Gammanpila has appealed to motorists to use fuel sparingly so that the country can use its foreign exchange to buy essential medicines and vaccines.

A presidential aide has warned that fuel rationing may be introduced by the end of the year unless consumption was reduced.

9 comments on “Sri Lanka declares food emergency as forex crisis worsens

  1. Dhanushka

    Don’t report rubbish, you talk about about food crisis and show pictures of people getting kerosene.

    There are no such ques and the fact you cannot get a single picture for your article proves it.

    Like

  2. This is bound to happen when you have a bunch of idiots running the country. These clowns are racists, corrupt and arrogant. Ruined the whole country with the blessing of 69 M cardboard patriots.

    Like

  3. This is bound to happen when you have a bunch of idiots running the country. These clowns are racists, corrupt and arrogant. Ruined the whole country with the blessing of 69 M cardboard patriots.

    Like

  4. Tungsan Yu

    There is no shortage of food like this ridiculous article makes out. The supermarket shelves are full. (Of course at a price)
    Sathosa sells food items at a controlled price. This idiot editor must be living on another planet.

    Like

    • Hello, this is from AFP an international News agency. If everything is fine then you don’t have to worry. But people will tell you otherwise.

      Like

  5. Tungsan Yu

    There is no shortage of food like this ridiculous article makes out. The supermarket shelves are full. (Of course at a price)
    Sathosa sells food items at a controlled price. This idiot editor must be living on another planet.

    Like

  6. Toni Bartlett

    This is propaganda to bring the Government into disrepute. Instead of getting together and trying to sort out important matters they are trying all their tricks of the trade. What about the sugar found hidden in warehouses. Disgusting behaviour

    Like

  7. Jayawardena

    I am from Gampaha, Sri Lanka. For a moment I thought that I must be living in another country when reading this article. This is ridiculous. We have no such food shortage. We do have inflation, but no one has to ration on food, unless they have lost their jobs/income. Just log in to any online ordering website and order what you want to see if there is a shortage. Such a crazy article.

    Like

  8. There is no food shrtage as of now. But no dollars for imports is correct up to certain extent . By the end of year we might face difficulties as mentioned in the article in case we dont get $$$ from China. I think this is a global issue. Not limited to Sri Lanka. Most developing countries having the same issue

    Like

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